“I believe all Americans who believe in freedom, tolerance and human rights have a responsibility to oppose bigotry and prejudice based on sexual orientation.”
-Coretta Scott King
It’s amazing how my little state of Ohio can have such an impact on the country. Or maybe to be clear, one MAN from Ohio can have an impact, and his name is Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the now historic Supreme Court ruling allowing gay marriage in all 50 states. What an absolutely monumental day for him and all that are impacted by this ruling that will allow couples who love each other to get married.
I grew up in Small Town, USA, and I don’t recall the words gay or homosexual or lesbian EVER being used. There were no shows with gay people in them, it was not a topic of conversation and it was not discussed. My first exposure to the word “gay” came from my mom, who was friends with a co-worker that was gay. She attended his lavish Christmas parties, went to his church occasionally, and knew his partner. She attended his funeral after he passed away from complications with AIDS. My mom did not care he was gay, he was a friend. That impression stayed with me.
The 80’s brought the fear of AIDS, and the assumption that it only affected gay people. There were opinions that AIDS was God’s way of punishing gay people. But when “straight” people got AIDS too, we learned the truth about how people contracted AIDS and how to treat it. There were so many stories of famous people that died of AIDS—Freddie Mercury, Rock Hudson, Liberace, Anthony Perkins and Arthur Ashe to name a few. That was my next exposure to gay people – AIDS and famous people dying.
As my journey through life continued, I was exposed to more gay people–people I worked with, clubs I went to. It slowly came into the mainstream. Remember when Ellen DeGeneres came out on her show? That was BOLD! GROUNDBREAKING! Now gay people are portrayed regularly in TV and the movies, and it has become no different than seeing a person with red hair or darker skin. The generations that followed mine (and maybe my Gen X too) seem to accept gay people as PART of their culture, not a separate culture. I know I do.
As I attended various events over the weekend, there was a proliferation of rainbows. There was a joy in the air. People were happy. I was happy for them.
In the last few days, I have witnessed the outpouring of support for the church members in South Carolina, people lining the streets for Cincinnati policeman Sonny Kim, and people rejoicing after this historic ruling. I hope this is the beginning of a shift to an era of love for ALL humans.